Sunday, October 25, 2009

Weeks That Was: Functionaries Follow Form

While Infinonymous operated on autopilot (without radio contact) for a few weeks, most locals adhered to standard courses:

● The boy mayor lied about the influence of a Republican political operator/creamskimmer within his administration (despite clear signals his opponents possessed documentary evidence that would demonstrate that influence), got caught, and edged simultaneously closer to political impenetrability and eventual indictment. The Propositions Board lines on indictment remain unchanged; they already reflected the Verbanac/Grattan/Zappala angles (far right column).

● Dan Onorato demonstrated that nothing (short of Judge Wettick's posting of armed assessors in county offices) will deter him from attempting to perpetuate immoral property tax windfalls for the rich at the expense of less-affluent communities and poor taxpayers.

● Mary Beth Buchanan (whose continued presence at the Federal Courthouse remains the best thing Luke Ravenstahl has going for him, because nothing protects a compromised public official better than another compromised public official), whose office apparently failed to mention that it had received recordings of privileged communications between incarcerated defendants and lawyers, assured us that her office did nothing wrong, and asked everyone to take her word for it. Meanwhile, she managed to find a moment (amid a hectic schedule of convicting waterpipe-selling comedians and failing to convict ostensibly felonious faxers) to finally charge the central figure in what she called the largest fraud in the history of the region -- several years after the fraud was publicly revealed -- then promptly watched the suspect walk on a modest (by the standards of a case in which more than $100 million is still missing) and unsecured bond. If anyone deserves an unsecured bond, it's a guy whose office contained a secret room that contained safes said to contain wads of foreign currency, gemstones worth $20 million, watches worth $1 million and a sack of unregistered handguns -- and, perhaps more pertinent so long as Buchanan remains United States Attorney, was a major holy-roller, a big-time Republican donor, and a member of the 2003 Republican Chairman's Honor Roll.

● Clownish court candidate Michele Zappala Peck burnished her credentials for local political ascendancy by being revealed as a down-low mouthpiece (not even a legal mouthpiece, just a mouthpiece) at the low-down intersection of politics and the gambling industry.

● The Post-Gazette news columns advanced the public interest by revealing the newest Zappala-casino connections (and associated recordkeeping and disclosure issues), overshadowing the P-G's failure to connect the dots concerning Verbanac and the mayor's office years earlier.

● The Post-Gazette editorial page crapped its pants by arguing that Joan Orie Melvin's appointment as a magistrate in her fifth year of lawyering was an accomplishment and mark of quality (rather than the sure sign of political hackery) in a state Supreme Court endorsement that ignored the paramount issue of redistricting, then crapped the entire fourth floor's pants by issuing a fawning pass to Ravenstahl on the still-unraveling Verbanac revelations. (Hint to P-G: More revelations are on the way, so someone could save the newspaper further embarrassment by telling the editorial page writers to take a couple of months off.)

● The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police (led by Chief Nathan Harper, right) has apparently decided to address documented police mistreatment of a Pittsburgh resident on a Pittsburgh street by letting the Chicago Police Department's Internal Affairs Division handle it (much as Pittsburgh's professional journalists appear to be leaving G-20 aftermath coverage to collegiate reporters).

● Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg continued to refrain from uttering a syllable in defense of Pitt students abused during the police-state seige of Oakland. Perhaps Pitt students could satisfy their arrest-related community service requirements by conducting a comprehensive search for Nordenberg's manhood and conscience?

● UPMC demonstrated a search would be pointless with respect to any shred of a conscience (which, we now learn, is not a requirement for nonprofit or charity status). At UPMC, the profit-bone is connected to the influence-bone, the influence-bone is connected to the nontaxpaying-bone, the nontaxpaying-bone is connected to the profit-bone . . . and that's the entire anatomy.

● Jeff Reed was arrested again but his 'next Steeler arrested' tickets lost (see Propositions Board, far right column) because Matt Spaeth beat him to the handcuffs by a minute or two, generating an upset victory for holders of 'field' tickets.

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